The most offensive ads of 2018

Ad Standards is a part of an organisation (which also includes the Community Panel and the Industry Jury) that receives and reviews complaints about advertising in Australia. Despite what many people believe, it’s not a government body, but rather, is governed by a board and funded by a levy. In 1998, advertising became self-regulating in Australia, hence the need for the development of a monitoring body such as Ad Standards.

Ad Standards regularly releases information about the number and nature of complaints it receives, and sometimes, based on the jury’s reviews, complaints are upheld and the ad is pulled from circulation.

So far in 2018, over 4,000 complaints have been made to Ad Standards, mainly regarding sexual and violent content. A Sportsbet ad and one by iSelect from earlier this year are the two most complained about in the 20-year-history of Ad Standards.

Here are the five ads that attracted the most complaints for 2018:

(Please note, you may be likely to find these ads offensive)

 1. Sportsbet – 793 complaints – A man ‘manscaping’ his pubic hair should not ever be in a TV ad. (Also, how is it even relevant to betting?) This ad was removed from free-to-air TV after a record amount of complaints were received.

 2. iSelect – 715 complaints – An ad showing a woman aggressively hitting a piñata in front of children generated the second highest amount of complaints ever. Some viewers found the violence abhorrent and the ad was removed from TV by iSelect.

 3. Ultra Tune – 134 complaints – This wasn’t Ultra Tune’s first rodeo, the company appears to have a penchant for controversial ads that spark outrage among some consumers. This year’s ad featuring Mike Tyson was no exception; with complaints suggesting it was sexually suggestive and exploitive. These claims, however, were dismissed by the Ad Standards Industry Jury (meaning the ad could continue to be screened).

 4. Youfoodz – 49 complaints – A couple discussing how often they ‘do it’, when they’re really talking about eating Youfoodz meals, was seen by some to be tasteless. These complaints were also dismissed by Ad Standards.

 5. Yum Restaurants International – 46 complaints – A KFC ad that portrayed parents being shown a photo their kid had drawn of them – ‘naked wrestling’ during a parent-teacher interview received criticism for its sexual content. The Ad Standards Industry Jury dismissed these complaints.

These ads show just how far advertisers will go to gain attention for their product. I know they say sex sells, but honestly ad men and women, you can’t relate it to everything!

What do you think of these ads? Which do you find most and least offensive?

Written by Lucy

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